On 19 January 2012, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property which describes progress made in implementing the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006) and the additional corrective measure adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011). The report notes that the application of corrective measures is supported by the implementation of two projects: the” PARC-CI” project (Projet d’Appui à la Relance de la Conservation des Parcs et Réserves ) with funding of USD 2.54 million from the GEF / World Bank, and the “Opération transitoire de sécurisation du parc National de la Comoé”, financed by the Ivorian Government. The property also received 16.4 million CFA francs from the Rapid Response Facility (RRF). In addition, IUCN received reports indicating the possibility that a French debt relief fund could enable sustainable funding for the park. The report indicates that with the end of the post-election crisis, State authority over the property has now been restored. However, the State Party points out that the post-election crisis engendered loss of material and archives, and the looting of offices. Inadequate financial and material resources and damage incurred between 2002 and 2011 have further threatened the security of the property. The report notes the following efforts to implement corrective measures:
a) Establish, as a matter of urgency, an effective system of control and patrolling for the whole property, in close collaboration with the armed forces, and giving priority to the development and rehabilitation of necessary infrastructures
The State Party reports on the implementation of the temporary surveillance strategy developed in 2009. Thus, with the support from the two projects and the RRF mentioned above enabled the acquisition of equipment, the training of specialized agents, and a wide-ranging patrol. During 2011, three patrols consisting of four teams of 75 officers were deployed for ten days both inside and outside the property. These patrols were conducted by the Ivorian OFFICE OF Parks and Reserves (OIPR) with the support of Côte d'Ivoire Republican Forces and seven village auxiliaries; they apprehended 7 poachers, 6 gold diggers, 11 12-caliber rifles, 8250 12-gauge cartridges, bags of smoked fish and smoke-dried meat, and 686 planks of timber. In addition, 13 cattle ranchers were driven out of the park. Infrastructure rehabilitation work in Bouna and Gawi is being undertaken to improve the working conditions of the patrols. The report notes however the loss of a quantity of equipment during the post-election crisis, and only one surveillance troop transport vehicle is currently available.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note with satisfaction that the normalization of the socio-political situation of the country and the availability of funding has enabled the initiation of efforts to improve security within the property. However they believe that with three 10-day patrols, surveillance coverage remains extremely limited in view of the huge pressure on the property.
The World Heritage Centre received two reports of surveillance missions of the OIPR carried out in January and February 2012. These reports indicate the presence of numerous signs of poaching and transhumance over the entire property, and in addition to transhumance, gold panning and the presence of crop fields were also observed. At the same time, the reports note extremely low densities of wildlife (no sightings during the January 2012 mission, a few sightings in the middle of the park during the February 2012 mission).
b) Restore, as a matter of urgency, the integrity of the property, by removing cattle from the park and addressing agricultural encroachment
The report notes that following the normalisation of the socio-political situation in the country, two missions to evict cattle ranchers were organized. In addition, with the support from the RRF, four information and awareness-raising sessions were held with, as main result, the voluntary departure of a hundred cattle ranchers settled in the property since 2003. The administrative authorities organized two meetings with all the stakeholders including infiltrated ranchers and planters. Thus, an unspecified date was set to fully clear the park. It was agreed that funding will be sought to undertake agro-pastoral improvements in transhumance corridors on the outskirts of the park. The State Party also reports that in the framework of the implementation of residency measures, with the support of the RRF, local NGOs and nearby radio stations have organized activities to raise public awareness.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that an aerial survey of the wildlife and flora made in March 2010 by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) and the OIPR, with support from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) revealed that 90% of the total population of mammals present within the property were domestic animals and that cattle grazing was responsible for a significant degradation of the ecosystem of the property.
c) Develop and launch the implementation of a management plan based on the model management plan established for the national network of protected areas
The State Party indicates that a development and management plan has been elaborated and will be finalized by an international expert, who will also produce a three-year emergency plan. The results should be approved and made available in February 2012.
However, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the management plan had not yet been submitted by the State Party at the time of this present report. In addition, they also recall that the Committee had requested the State Party to set up a revised zoning for the property which takes full account of its status as World Heritage Property and Biosphere Reserve.
d) Extend the activities of the management structure to encompass the entire property
The State Party indicates that the control of the entire park is now effective following the installation of all the major military commands in the Central, North and West zones. Thus, since October 2011, the agents of four sectors have returned to their workstations. Because of accommodation difficulties, the State Party had planned that the agents of the Kong sector would only return to their base in January 2012. A total of 90 agents, including managers, supervisors and enforcement officers, of which 77 surveillance officers and 12 office agents, are deployed at the headquarters of the Zone Directorate and in the different sectors of the property. An expert in park surveillance was recruited for the implementation of the surveillance strategy.
e) Evolution of species of wildlife populations and mining exploitation
The State Party provides no information on the current status of the populations of flagship species of the property, but its report indicates that it plans to conduct an aerial survey in 2012. IUCN has received reports indicating that an inventory was underway at the time of writing the present report, in March 2012. The results of this inventory should be provided to the World Heritage Centre prior to the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011), had requested the State Party to confirm officially that no mining exploration license covering the property has been granted. They note that the State Party has still not provided any information on this matter.